Testing the Guru
For many years I have been astonished by the experiences and recollections/rationalisations of a small group of the former followers/premies of Prem Rawat aka Guru Maharaj Ji. These were the people who had some sort of physical closeness to the guru - in person - rather than seeing the guru on stage, at a distance or in some tightly circumscribed rituals. I was not one of those people. I spent 10 years involved in Divine Light Mission, 25 years as an apostasized follower who had close family ties that kept me associating with many followers/premies and then spent 10 years actively seeking, collecting and disseminating information about Rawat's career.
My understanding was that Prem Rawat's bona fides as a guru arose from a set of inter-related claims:
- He inherited the title of Perfect Master and unique Spiritual Power from his father who was the one and only manifestation of God in a human body on the planet before him. There was always one and only one of these Masters alive at any time.
- He was the sole bona fide source of the techniques of meditation that allowed people to attain enlightenment, realisation, love, peace, whatever you want to call it through their own effort. These techniques were worthless if taught by unauthorised people.
- He was the sole source of the spiritual grace that would empower the individual's attempts at meditation on the energy that created, preserved and destroyed the universe.
- Through his own effort in meditation he had attained an experience of life beyond the understanding of normal humans. He promised that, although he would always be unique and above all others, we too could attain the same experience. This experience was utterly beyond anything that could be imagined.
The first three claims are somewhat difficult to validate so for me it was the fourth claim I had to settle on and indeed it was the claims of other young Australians, similar to myself, that convinced me to begin and continue in DLM. After nearly a decade I decided that my own life and those of all the other followers/premies that I knew gave no evidence that Prem Rawat and his Knowledge were what he claimed. It was just another cult and he was just another wannabe - delusional or fraudulent. Despite all the clues along the way that I ignored pointing me in this direction I have held on to the idea that had I had first hand knowledge of Prem Rawat's actual life I would have stopped many years earlier.
After about 3 years having virtually nothing to do with the subject I came across the following letter yesterday when I took a look at the prem-rawat-talk.org web site. Below are some quotes from that letter.
I also had plenty of experiences of GMJ's utter meanness and what was obviously his tenuous grasp on reality, which became ever more tenuous over time as he wanted more of the material and other trappings he warned about. I was pimping for him when he was 13. I was buying him booze and dope even earlier.
His deep character flaws were obvious to me, and I was never able to embrace the idea of dismissing them to the grace and power of guru. I never truly abandoned my values, and that is what doomed me in his eyes. … And no doubt, to my retrospective chagrin, I was the vehicle for him to create much suffering in people's lives.
This once again raised the question in my mind. How is it that some people could see that Prem Rawat in person exhibited none of the personal chacteristics of a person who had "Realised Knowledge" - characteristics that he had stated many times were obvious and necessary. Indeed, as this letter (and the evidence of many others) showed, he was not even a normal decent human being.
One refrain I heard back in the early 1970's was:
"The thing is, there are many gurus in the world but it's not what you believe or whether you have any faith or whether you get high by his, by his words but whether or not he can actually show you that light inside of yourself that is keeping you alive. To me that's really the test of the guru."
However, I certainly couldn't claim that in my meditations I recognised such a force and with hindsight we can see that those who claimed such an experience didn't either. Most of these inner circle enablers of Rawat's did not believe that there was anything wrong with alcohol, marijuana or young people having sex and these are common attitudes. However Rawat taught quite vehemently that a vegetarian, drug-free and celibate life lived in poverty (Western not Indian style poverty) was the required life-style for the Realisation of this Knowledge and though he was quite open that his life though should be lived in luxury.